Romy Shinn Piccolella

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 Romy Shinn Piccolella received a MFA from Goddard College and has published poetry in Pennsylvania English, Miller's Pond, Earth's Daughters, The Externalist and The Fourth River, among others, and have work forthcoming in tinfoildresses. Pudding House Publications published her chapbook Tether, in late 2007. She lives in rural north central Pennsylvania



Girls Only



I remember laughing all night – at what? The blush at the mention of boys, a burp, imitations of a classmate whose mother let her tease her hair and wear lipstick while we snuck nail polish from closets and drawers, put it on, glossy, thick, red over our thin nails cut to the pink, over cuticles and on thumb knuckle and sides. We could only keep it on until it almost dried, for fear of being seen and told that we were too young for such things.


We’d write messages on notebook paper in purple glitter Wet ‘N Wild, writing I love you in abbreviations or “I Love John, IDT, INDT - If Destroyed True/If Not Destroyed True.” We’d swim in the sour smell and thoughts of what mom and dad did when they thought we were asleep. I look through a photo album of my 10th birthday and remember mom screaming at me when she caught me with my hand under my flannel nightgown and legs spread wide. She never explained why I shouldn’t touch myself there, but dragged me to the bathroom to wash my hands. She told me never to do it again, like wearing nail polish that I rubbed off with ripped Kleenex and toilet paper.






Rules for Living in Small Town America



  1. Keep all doorways and windows open. Walk around naked.
  2. Equip every living room with a corner fireplace -- fill with candles.
  3. Install window gates only if necessary. Paint blue.
  4. Attach your mailbox to a green 2 x 4, a cement-filled steel post, a stump, or a piece of rusted farm equipment. Make sure it is far enough from the side of the road so the snow plow doesn’t knock it over.
  5. Tilt your mailbox. Paint black and drape with silk flowers.
  6. Leave a Christmas present in the mailbox for the mail lady. There are no mail men, though the postmaster is always a man.
  7. Recognize homosexuality as a sin. Deny that you have ever been curious.
  8. Deny that you own pornography. Also deny you enjoy sex. Never talk about sex in public. Pretend babies are delivered by storks.
  9. The fire department is composed of volunteers who work full time elsewhere. Most are balding and overweight. Keep a hose hooked up outside.
  10. There is no police station. Buy a gun. Keep loaded. Keep on top of the TV.
  11. There are no bars. The nearest liquor store is 30 minutes away. Stock up monthly.
  12. There are at least three churches, one of which is termed Holy Roller. All are Christian. Do not attend the Holy Roller church. Children will think you worship on skates.
  13. The bank has four employees. Make sure you are not one of them. Keep your money at the bank in the neighboring town.
  14. Buy overpriced cereal and rotten bologna at the local grocery store. Don’t write a check, even if they know you.
  15. Evolution is a myth.
  16. Do not question the church. Pretend that you do not wonder if Jesus existed. Don’t ever mention the discrepancies between the books of the Bible. Never remind people that Jesus was not white.
  17. Craft shows are community events. They are always held at a church. Buy vegetable beef soup and barbecue.
  18. Refuse to drink city water.
  19. Garbage renewal is $18 a month for three bags weekly. Overfill them.
  20. Exercise care in the use of vibrators. You may no longer need your lover.







26 Weeks



It moved.

This is the first time

I could distinguish between gas

and a fetus. I keep saying

it, when I know

that it has a dick.

I saw it on the ultrasound

waving in the amniotic fluid

like a periscope above water.

That was embarrassing,

as the doctor pointed it out

and smirked at me while my pants

were down. All my husband said

was “oh, neat.”







Eating Chocolate Chip Cookies



On the toilet

I flip through catalogs,

pregnant belly rolling. He will be


a gymnast, soccer player, boxer.

I can tell. He rolls.

“Aliens” comes to mind,


that scene where the infant

creature bursts through the abdominal wall

covered in blood, screaming.


I stamp my foot

and tell him to stop.

He doesn’t.


My dog brings me one of her babies,

a stuffed orange bone

with thick white ropes on either side.


She drops it at my feet.

It squeaks.

I kick it into the hallway.